The American Airman

NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas -- You will not find their names etched in granite or marble stone; or on neatly placed placards with accompanying pictures lining the hallways and corridors of the Air Force's numerous buildings and edifices; nor recorded in great literary text and canonized in the books of our Air Force history noting their contributions to the Air Force or the Air Force Reserve Command. They are simple men in character but were multifaceted Airmen in their vision, duty, commitment, and service to our nation. 

They are men who displayed a quiet resolve and sincere appreciation for the positions they held. Maybe their steadfastness was due to the fact they came of age and answered the call of duty, while so many others of their era shunned the uniform they wore and deplored their service to a nation engaged in an unpopular war. 

It could have been they simply had pride in what they did which led them to ensure the generation to follow in their footsteps would be well prepared to carry out the duties required, expected, and demanded of the American Airmen. Whatever their reasons, the one thing they understood was they had an obligation to make a difference. 

Soldiering is my lineage...infantrymen, paratroopers, and rangers from the Great War to the present war. I grew up in a family of soldiers, I was a solider but today I am an American Airmen, and proud of it...Air Force blue...through and through. My chiefs are the shoulders of the giants I stand on. No, you will not find their names written in any books of historical significance. 

But they shared the knowledge, the pride, and the meaning of what it really means to be an American Airmen with me and hundreds of others. As your Tenth Air Force Command Chief, it is my privilege to serve with you in the world's greatest and most lethal Air Force
and my honor to walk shoulder-to-shoulder among the world's greatest Airmen, all inclusive...active duty, Guard, reserve, retired, and civilians. 

Because of airmen like you our Air Force remains vigilant and strong. Our brothers and sisters are serving all over the world, participating in the many on-going operations, delivering precise intelligence, ordnance, supplies, fuel, and other effects to support the combat commanders worldwide; flying satellites, sitting air defense and missile alert and leading vehicle convoy operations. 

The American Airmen is not just a position within the construct of our nation's military ranks--rather the American Airmen is a state of being, a state of mind. It is a consciousness or should I say an attitude that you are a part of something great, something noble...noble not in term of aristocratic, but service... with a deep sense of pride where we place duty, the mission, and honor above personal comfort or safety. 

Since 1947 when the Air Force became an independent service there have been more than six million of you to don Air Force blue...six million people who have joined the United States Air Force and serve as Airmen. I'm proud to be, like you are, among
that vast number. We have inherited an Air Force left to us through the vision, blood, and sacrifices of the heroes and the legends that came before us. And among these heroes and legends were many enlisted airmen.
 
But you ask for no special thanks in return for your unwavering commitment to serve, your devotion to duty, your sacrifices to ensure America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yet, someone once said "We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." I offer you and your families my special thanks. I have seen many great airmen in my career, and I'm sure there will be many more to follow. 

Remember this simple truth; the Airmen of tomorrow will only be as good as we prepare them today. Take a moment to reflect on your service, duty, and commitment and then ask, "Am I upholding the tradition and legacy of what it means to be an American Airman?" My prayer is that God will continue to bless you, our leaders, the United States of America, and the greatest Airmen and Air Force in the World.